The story of Walterina’s first love - DIRECT LINE by Boy Abunda
() - December 20, 2000 - 12:00am
The House of the Golden Gays is in a busy, congested part of F. B. Harrison St. in Pasay City. It is run and subsidized by Councilor Justo Justo popularly known as JJ. It is home to many elderly gays. It is home to Walter Dempster Jr., also known as Walterina Markova, the Comfort Gay.

At 76, Markova is still beautiful. He says so. And you are mesmerized by his spunk. He says he has a boyfriend of six years. Gone were those days when men would love gays because of love. Today, it is all about money, he muses. He keeps a fan where he lists all the men he has loved. He smiles and confides, ‘yong inililista ko, yun’ mga importante lang. Hindi kasama ang mga flings!"

Markova sits like a beauty queen trained at John Robert Powers. You notice how correctly he crosses his legs. His hands are graceful, his nails are neatly polished. He stares at you when he talks. He speaks clearly and loudly, almost shouting – especially when he looks back at a pained, abusive past.

It must have been infernal to be gay during the ’30s and the ’40s. The young Walter Dempster didn’t know what it was to be gay. But he knew he was different. Unlike other boys, he liked to play with young girls. He also wanted to wear their dresses. He had an American father who passed away when he was ten. He isn’t sure whether he knew if he was gay or not because in his Dad’s presence, he would lower his voice and straighten his back like a young cadet. It was his older brother who was cruel to him. He would hit the helpless young Walter who he once caught trying on the dress of their sister. Walter was an embarrassment to his elder macho brother. All his mother would say was, "Ganyan talaga yan. Pagpasensiyahan mo na." One day, a friend of his brother went to their house. They had a drinking spree. This guy was a movie star. His brother was dead drunk. His friend must have been horny drunk because he started to abuse the young Walter Dempster, Jr. He tried to fight back but the guy was just so strong that he could not escape. Besides, he could not shout, afraid that his brother might wake up and hit him more. He was sodomized by his brother’s friend. Walter Dempster was raped when he was 14. He never told anyone about this, not even his mother who noticed the way he sat on the edge of his chair, the days that followed. He kept this dark secret, afraid that if he told anyone, no one would listen to him.

During this time, Walter also fell in love for the first time. "I told Antonio that I liked him. And he said that he liked me too. We were on for years and it continued until the Japanese occupation." You would mistake Markova for a blushing debutante when he talks about his first love, Antonio.

During the Japanese time, Walter Dempster, Jr. became Walterina Markova – The Russian/English prima ballerina who visited Manila. Although the name Markova was originally intended for Walter’s friend, it became his by accident. His friend decided to take a different alias.

Markova and four of his gay friends became entertainers in a cabaret exclusive for Japanese military officials. They would dance for a fee. Markova on special nights would do the Oriental Dance. He was a star in the cabaret. But the Japanese didn’t know that he and his four other friends were gays.

One night, they were brought by Japs to the Luneta Hotel. There, the sordid discovery that they were gays happened. Feeling duped, the Japs kicked them out of the hotel, called the Kempetai and had them hauled in a truck and brought to the Rizal Memorial Stadium which at that time was a warehouse for the Japanese. At the garrison, they were mercilessly raped, abused, sodomized by a battalion of ruthless, dirty Japanese soldiers. No one heard their cries. When not being raped, they would wash clothes for the Japanese and do menial jobs inside the warehouse. This harrowing torture continued to happen for almost a year. They were comfort gays to sex starved Japanese warriors.

Markova says that when he looks back, he cannot cry anymore. "Naubos na ang tili at luha ko. I smile. I thank God that it is over. But the pain is still here," he points to his heart.

Walter’s story has been made into film by Director Gil Portes, who brought the idea to Eric Quizon, one of the brightest actors we have in Philippine Cinema who should also continue to direct movies. His first outing, Pusong Mamon, a collaboration he had with direk Joel Lamangan, remains to be one of the most honest and heartwarming Filipino movies ever made. Eric and Gil, then went to see Dolphy, unchallenged King of Comedy, to convince him to do the movie. He did not only agree to do Markova, he decided to produce it.

is an entry to the Metro Manila Filmfest. People who have seen it say, Dolphy, Eric and Jeffrey Quizon delivered solid and brilliant performances.

Is the worst over for Walter Dempster, Jr.? Is the worst over for gays. Your answer is extremely important.

Meanwhile, go see Markova on Christmas day!

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